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New Treatment Offers Promise for Keratoconus Patients

updated

One in 1,800 people are diagnosed with an eye condition called keratoconus—a progressive thinning of the outer layer of the eye called the cornea. For most keratoconus patients, rigid contact lenses, which are often uncomfortable and sometimes intolerable, are the only option to manage thinning and to help correct vision affected by the irregular shape of the cornea.

Today, a new surgical option using Intacs promises new hope for patients with this disease. The goal of the new procedure is to halt the progression of the disease and to help reshape the cornea, making it easier to fit patients for glasses or contact lenses. Patients also benefit from reduced corneal steepening and improved vision.

Approved by the FDA in 1999 for treating mild nearsightedness, the Intacs procedure inserts two tiny, clear crescent-shaped pieces of a plastic polymer into the cornea. The Intacs procedure is different from other refractive surgeries because tissue removal is not involved, the central cornea is spared, and the implanted segments are removable.

Take the case of one of my Intacs patients, Sherman Martin. Until recently, his only treatment option was hard contact lenses. As he explains, “Knowing that my only option was hard contact lenses, I was very excited to hear about Intacs. After having the procedure, my vision is much better, and I can now function without my glasses.”

Any long-term effects that Intacs may have on the natural course of keratoconus are unknown; however, the initial results are promising. The procedure is an off-label use of Intacs and should be performed only in certain cases. I believe the best candidate is someone who is not able to wear glasses or be fitted with contact lenses and who has little or no corneal scarring. As with any surgery, patients should understand that there are some inherent risks with the procedure.

Dr. Mitchell Jackson is the medical director of Advanced Center for Eye Care, with locations in Naperville, Chicago, and Lake Villa. Dr. Jackson is nationally recognized for his pioneering efforts in cataract and refractive surgery (LASIK).

For more information on the author, please visit www.mjlasikdoc.com

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